Monday, December 29, 2014

Os Eleitos do Senhor (The Elect of the Lord)

Oi família!

Well, it was good to talk with you guys on Christmas.  Sorry that I don´t speak english very well now.  I tried, I really did, but it was a little harder than I had anticipated.  But fortunetely, I won´t have to speak english again until May.  Que alívio!

I had a wonderful realization today.  Cleaning bathrooms in Brazil is fun.  Everything is made of ceramic or stone so there´s no fear of causing damage to wooden cabinets and stuff.  I was cleaning our bathrooms today and after I scrubed everything down I just threw water on everything to clean off the chemicals!  Easy clean!

But the story of the week comes from Maia, our new elect that we´re teaching.  In english everyone says "golden investigator" for that one person that is really prepared for the gospel.  Here we say that they´re "eleito" or "elect".  Maia is definitely one of them.  The version of the Bible Dictionary we have in Portuguese says that the elect "Are those who love God with all their meart and live in a way pleasing to His sight."  Maia is truly one who lives as such.  After our miracle with her coming to church last week we headed over on Tuesday morning.  We began just seeing what she thougt about church, and especially the Restoration of the gospel in these the latter-days.  She kept presenting doubts about teachings from different religions and what she should think and do.  As we were teaching about the Book of Mormon it was amazing to see how her countenance changed.  As she evaluated our words and felt the Spirit of the Lord, she began resolving her own doubts and problems without our saying anything.

We went by Christmas morning and began teaching the Plan of Salvation.  We explained about the pre-earth life and she said "Well, that explains why so many of us have those feelings of homesickness for God.  We lived with him before we came here."  As we were nearing the end of the lesson she said, "Élders, I´m feeling a change inside of me.  I feel like all of this desire that I had to do bad is being washed away.  Could this be the answer I´m looking for to my prayers?"  and we showed her Alma 32:28:
Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten myunderstanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.
She said, "Wow! That´s exactly how I feel!"

Then, Maia came to church yesterday.  She realy enjoyed the Relief Society class and then as we were waiting for Gospel Principles to start she said, "Élder Evans, I think the Lord has responded to my prayer."
Me: "And what was His response?"
Maia: "He I think He said 'yes'!  When can I be baptized?"
Me: "As soon as possible!"

It is such a blessing to be able to teach Maia at this time.  She is so prepared to recieve the Restored Gospel.  We ran into her yesterday as she was returning from work and said that her manager said "Wow Maia, is there something different about you?"  She is so thrilled to be learning about Jesus Christ and how He has restored His church to the earth today.  I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He is our Savior.  I know that He has restored His church to the earth in by means of the Prophet Joseph Smith and that Thomas S. Monson is His prophet in our day.  The Book of Mormon is the proof of this great latter-day work and I know that it is true by the power of God. He responded to my prayer and question they same way that He responds to all of us.  The same way he responded to Maia.

Até o próximo!  Amo vocês!

Élder Evans

Monday, December 22, 2014

It´s a Christmas Miracle!

Oi família!

Well, I´m no longer in Fortaleza.  Like I said last week I´ve been transfered to Caucaia and I´m with Élder Borges.  Élder Borges is from São Paulo and he´s awesome.  He works hard, he´s dedicated, and he´s a convert to the church.  The missionaries taught and baptized him 3 years ago.  He stayed strong in the church for a year and then headed out on the mission.  It´s awesome working with him because he understands how the investigators feel.  All of my other companions were born and raised in the church.  Bad thing? No.  Personally, I feel super blessed that i had the oportunity to be born in the new and eternal covenant.  But, Élder Borges brings a new perspective to my teaching because he understands what it´s like to be an investigator. It´s going really well.  I´m super excited to work with him for this next little while.

But the big news of the week was a super cool experience we had yesterday.  We headed over to the church early to make some phone calls to some investigators to see who would come to church.  We got there and Élder Borges said, "Let´s call Maia."  Maia is a woman that Élder Borges contacted a few weeks ago.  So, he called and invited her to church.  she said "Alright" and sure enough, she showed up about 30 minutes later!  We had a good first hour and then came time for Sunday School.  Maia came out of Relief Society and said "Well, I really liked the first lesson.  But I´ve been a believer in the faith for 6 years now, do I really have to attend Gospel Principles? I think I´m a little beyond that."  Élder Borges said, "Oh this will be a lesson that you´ve never heard before."  LSS, the teacher didn´t show up.  So who gave the lesson?  That´s right, me.  As i was sitting before the class I was thinking, "Restoration or Christmas?"  and the Spirit came to me and told me I would have to pick one and just have faith that it would work out.  So, I chose the Restoration.  It was awesome.  Everyone really liked the lesson but what was better was how guided I felt.  The whole lesson I felt like I wasn´t even the one teaching, but that the Spirit was using me as a tool to teach what the Lord wanted them to hear.  My favorite part was when I recounted the First Vision.  It was as if the world stopped for a few moments.  No sound came from the outside, The only thing that was sounding was my voice as I said "I saw a pilar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun...."  Without fail every time I have recounted Joseph Smith´s marvelous vision of God and our Savior the Spirit confirms to me that it is true. All the missionaries bore testimony about the truthfulness of the message and we left everyone with the invitation to pray about the message during sacrament meeting and everyone accepted.  As we were leaving we tried to set an appointment to speak with maia again and she said "well let´s see, tuesday, thursday, saturday, sunday, oh, sunday i´ll be here again" and as we climbed the stairs to the chapel "Élder, what´s the name of the prophet agian?'  It was awesome.  I love seeing how every single day miracles happen on the mission if we´re willing to let them.

I know that our Savior, Jesus Christ, lives.  I know that he was born, lived, died, and lived again for us.  This is His church.  I am His representative.  I am so grateful for the opportunity that we have to remember Him during this wonderful Christmas season. Remember Him this season, and why this season is so special after all.

Amo vocês!  Até quinta-feira!

Élder Evans    

Monday, December 15, 2014

Mistura de Sentimentos (Mixed Feelings)

Oi família!

Well, I´m being transfered! I´ll be leaving Élder Muniz here in CC3 and heading over to Caucaia (which is like the Sandy of Salt Lake).  I´m excited becuase I´ve always wanted to serve in that area because I´ll be able to get to know other parts of the mission and because I hear that the work there is great.  But, I´m also really bummed.  I have grown to love the Conjunto Ceará 3rd ward.  It´s so amazing here.  it´s a harder area but the members have begun helping us so much and everyone is looking to help us out.  This past week we were blessed to find a number of new families and people that appear to want to come to church, learn, and be baptized.  The Lord has blessed us so much recently and I was so excited to pass Christmas here in the midst of so many amazing members.  Alas, this is not the Lord´s will for me at this time, but you can believe that I´ll be headed into Caucaia with fire.

But we had an amazing experience yesterday with a member-present lesson that fell through.  We´re teaching this family and the mother marked an apointment to talk with us yesterday afternoon.  We were thinking that because she didn´t really know any members of the ward bringing a member would help her feel more at ease to come to church.  So, we talked with Irmã Samira and she went over with us. We got there and the lady said, "So, I have clients that just showed up (she´s a beautician).  Can we set another day?"  We did and then began to walk away.  We asked Samira if she didn´t mind trying another person with us.  She agreed and we began on our way there.  On the way Samira asked, "So, is this a set appointment?"  We responded that it wasn´t and she said, "Well, can I talke you guys to meet one of my friends then?"  Member referal or backup plan?  We went with the referral.  We got there and met Isabel and Robério, a married couple, and their son.  Samira presented us to their family and we were invited in to share a brief message.  We began talking about the Church´s big message lately, "He is The Gift" and how God has given us so many presents.  His Son, the Bible, but especially our families.  It was amazing to see how easily we taught and how quickly and efectively Élder Muniz and I were able to teach together.  We talked about how the church was established by Jesus Christ to bless our families and how we know that families can be eternal.  It was so amazing to feel the power of Samira´s testimony as she explained how being a mom is difficult, but how wonderfully blessed her family is because of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.  At the end we left a simple invitation.  "Isabel e Robério, will you pray to know that what we said is true and that we are mesengers sent from God?"  and Robério replied, "If there´s any one thing that I know, it´s that God always answers my prayers.  I will pray and I know he will respond to me."  It was awesome.  The room was so full of the Spirit.  I saw the power of a good member-present lesson, but even more important, of presenting referrals to the missionareis and then going with them to teach!  Bear your testimony!  Share why the gospel matters to you!  I know that this is the pattern established by the Lord for His kingdom to grow here on the earth.  I know that this is His church.  I am His servant.  I love it.

Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, December 8, 2014

Little Miracles (different from the Milagrezinhos from last week)

Oi família!

Élder Muniz and I took a tour of the chapel today.  The church here is being built and one of managers of the work is a member of our ward.  So, we got to tour the church in construction!  It was cool.  We took a lot of photos.  It´s amazing to see how much detail the church puts into it´s projects. 

We had lots of little miracles this week.  It was a week of ups and downs, really.  We had some awesome stuff happen and some less awesome stuff happen too.  Remember Victor?  Well, his family is a little (or a lot) anti, so he didn´t end up getting baptized.  Actually, he decided that he doesn´t want to hear anything more from us about the church.  He said we could pass by any time to chat, but as for church stuff he doesn´t want anything.  I´m glad to know that it wasn´t anything personal that we did, but even so, it was sad.

But we had good things this week too. Most of our miracles this week were finding miracles because we´re short on people to teach recently.  Almost every missionary I know who passed in this area says "Oh, that area is horrible.  It´s small.  No one wants to hear the message.  Everyone who was willing already talked to the missionaries."  Well, Élder Muniz and I decided that we weren´t going to pay attention to that.  It helps that we recieved the other half of the ward so now we´re excited to do some more work there. 

We found a woman named Claudia who has a son-in-law who is a member of the church!  It´s been a few years since he attended and has forgotten a few things.  We contacted Caludia one day and she said we could come back another.  She ended up not being home that day, so we passed by on the Saturday when (by divine providence) her son-in-law was also there.  We taught the Restoration and the Lord blessed us with a super strong Spirit.  They understood perfectly and are willing to read, pray, and come to church next week!  Yay!

We also met a super awesome couple last night who wants to get married!  Most people just live together here and have no intention to get married, so this is a big step.  Last night we were out working and I felt like we should go visit a less-active member of the ward.  We headed over and on the way we passed by a couple with a young child sitting on a bench.  As we passed by I had the feeling, "why didn´t we talk with them?"  So, we went back and began to talk.  They were super cool and invited us to their house to share the message and said that they want to visit the church!  It was awesome.  Score 1 for the Spirit.

Then last Monday we were teaching this couple who´s a little bit older, Jusé and Ana. They´re not married and were worried that if they got married that they would lose their social security (it´s not exactly that, but it´s the closest thing we have).  As we were teaching, I opened my bible to Hebrews 11:1 and read the following:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Then I explained that getting married may be something that they don´t know how it´ll work out, but as they trust in the Lord, He will provide what they need.  I feel so much spiritual power behind my words as I spoke.  Fantastically, Irmão Jusé began to explain how he needed to believe more in God´s promises for him and his wife and that he wants to do everything possible to get married.  It was so awesome to feel how the Spirit just flowed through me as I taught.  I felt as if it was God talking directly to them and I was simply the instrument that He was using.  It was super cool.

In summary, our week was good, and this one is going to be even better. The Lord is in command.

Amo vocês!  Tenham uma ótima semana!

Élder Evans

P.S. Fotos
1) We made brownies last week.  No mom, I didn´t actually eat the batter.  Though I wanted to.
2) Me on the roof of the chapel checking out the AC units

3) Élder Muniz and I going missionary-worker style

Monday, December 1, 2014

Milagrezinhos (Little Miracles)

Oi família!

Well, after three months of blood, a lot of sweat (seriously, it´s really hot here) and tears, we´re having a bunch of progress!  Well, I guess that "a bunch" is relative, but compared with what´s been happening until this point, we´re having some good things happen! Élder Muniz and I set a goal to be more bold with people and to invite everyone to baptism in the first lesson, even if we´re a little bit scared to do so. And, things are going well!

We had some cool experiences happen this week with Victor.  He has a baptismal date for this Saturday (please pray that he can stop smoking before Friday) and one day we decided to talk about missionary work.  As we were explaining things he said, "Well, I have this friend, Paulo, that you guys can talk too.  He´s cool but he attends another talk so I don´t know if he´ll want to hear from you guys."  So, he went and talked to Paulo.  Paulo said he was interested in hearing a little so we invited him to a ward family night.  In the message we talked about "The Starfish Story".  This was one of Todd´s (my swim coach) favorite stores.  It goes like this:

One day, a man was walking along the beach after a terrible storm.  He was amazed at the beauty that he found during his walk with pieces of driftwood, shells, and starfish along the sand.  In the distance, this man saw a figure that seemed to be dancing and celebrating.  The man was thrilled to see someone so excited and joyous about life.  As he drew closer he noticed that the figure was a youth who seemed to be performing some practice over and over again.  As he arrived at the side of the youth he saw that the youth was repeatedly bending down, grabbing a starfish, and throwing the starfish back into the ocean.  The man, curious, asked the youth what he was doing.  Said the young man:
"I´m helping these starfish.  Soon the sun will come out and it will be extremely hot.  All of the starfish will dry up and die.  So, I´m throwing them back into the ocean so they can survive."
The man was impressed with this act of love.  Then looking up and down the beach he said to the youth:
"But don´t you see?  There are miles of beach here and millions of starfish!  You can´t possibly hope to make a difference here!"
The youth pondered this briefly and replied, "Maybe you´re right", then he bent down and plucking another starfish from the sand he throwing it into the water he said, "But it made a difference for that one."

Everyone really liked that story.  We talked about how the gospel is a gospel of "ones".  Ou seja, that people come to the gospel in ones.  One at a time people are invited, people commit, and one by one people are baptized.  We talked about how the Savior´s Atonement is a personal sacrifice.  He sacrificed himself for each one of us personally.  He knows who we are and what we struggle with in our lives.  I know that my Savior knows me personally.  With this brief message we marked another day to visit with Paulo.

We took Paulo and Victor to the house of a member here in the ward two days later.  There, we watched "Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration" and the Spirit was strong.  Victor liked the movie, but Paulo was intensely interested the whole time.  I don´t think he took his eyes off the TV for a single second.  Then at the end the members bore testimony about their own conversion and how they prayed to know that it was true. 

Then, to make things even better, he came to church yesterday!  Miracles are real.  I´m beginning to see more and more the promise that the Lord makes to us in Alma 37:6-7 about how many times, miracles are brought to pass by small and simple means.  I know this is true.

Eu sei que esta é a igreja verdadeira de Jesus Cristo.  Amo essa oportunidade que tenho para servir e ser represente Dele.  Amo vocês.

Élder Evans

Monday, November 24, 2014

O Evangelho é Verdadeiro (The Gospel is True)

Oi família!

This week was full of unique and interesting challenges.  Now that our area includes the whole ward we´re trying to figure out when to visit our half and the half of the other élders.  Finding equilibrium between the two is interesting, but it´s working out.  We´re having some amazing things happen and we´re really seeing the hand of the Lord in our work.  We´re still facing challenges, but like Élder Holland said, "How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him?"  The challenges are giving me a unique oportunity to understand even better the Atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I cannot even begin to describe how my love for Him has grown because of my missionary service.  This truly is His gospel.

But because of that, His gospel must also include miracles.  It makes sense.  What was in Christ´s primative church must also be in His modern church.  We had such a miracle on Saturday.  Our zone was having some challenges in finding new people to teach and especially in baptizing.  So, we organized a zone fast to be able to reach our baptismal goal for the transfer.  As we were fasting, we passed by Neto´s house.  Neto is living with an inactive member of the church and hasn´t had much religious background in his life.  We managed to catch him at home with his wife and we began to talk.  As we discussed things, we saw that he was confused about religion.  We live in a neighborhood here that is full of churches, practically one on every corner.  He wanted to know why and which one was right.  So, we began teaching the Restoration.  It was awesome.  The Spirit was so strong.  We got to the part about Christ´s original church and explained "So, Christ established his church using the foundations, A prophet, 12 apostles, and his authority (1 Corinthians 12:28).  Without that, the rest can´t fall into place"  and he said "Wait, so the church needs a prophet and apostles?  I didn´t know that."  He loved the lesson.  When we explained the First Vision the Spirit was so strong.  After I recited the words, we let the Spirit hang in the air a little and testify.  That little moment of silence was amazing as the Spirit explained to them that Joseph Smith was a true prophet.  My favorite part was the end when we made that final, ever so important, invitation.  We reviewed how we can obtain an answer through the Holy Ghost using Moroni 10:4-5.  We talked about real intent and then said "and you Neto, when you have an answer that this is Christ´s true church on the earth, will you follow His example by being baptized?"  And he said, "Why not?" 

I know that miracles are real because I see them every day.  Fasting is a true and powerful way to call down blessings from heaven.  I know this is the Savior´s true and living church here on the earth today.  I am His servant. 

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, November 17, 2014

Birthday pictures

 1) Birthday pizza (it's hard to make out, but my box says "21 years" and Elder Muniz's box says "1 year and 8 on the mission" also, it's written in Portuguese)


The Freestyle Leg

Oi família!

Well, the birthday went well.  I feel older and a lot wiser than I felt last year.  That happens on the mission.  You learn a lot, you grow a lot, and you´re blessed a lot.  I feel like I´ve learned, grown, and been super blessed during this past year and a half.  I´m happier than I can explain that I still have six more months.  This whole being 21 thing is a little weird.  I don´t feel 21.  I still feel 20.  But at least I´ll be home for 22 so I can listen to the Taylor Swift song.

We received word about transfers today.  Élder Muniz and I will be staying in our area, which grew!  Our super small area was divided between two companionships, but now the other one was taken from the area, so now we have the whole ward to us!  I´m going to miss having Élder K. Oliveira and Élder T. Anderson in our house, but Élder Muniz and I are super excited to get to work.  Things are going to be awesome!!!

This week was super good.  It was hot.  The sun was super strong.  I thought I was going to die because of the heat, and the sun was really powerful.  These are the complaints of a Cearense missionary.  It was also hot with really strong sun.  But it was still awesome.  We got some solid referals from people, we found a new family to teach, and Victor came to church!!!  I had a number of super awesome spiritual experiences, but our lesson we had with Victor was a stand-out.  We´ve been teaching him in the street on a little patio because his family isn´t super receptive to us.  Teaching in the street during the afternoon isn´t terrible because they´re few people until about 4 or 5 o´ clock.  But, it´s still not the best atmosphere.  So, we headed over to a member´s house, Irmão Wandemberg.  Wandemberg is a returned missionary that served in Riberão Preto (other mission in Brazil).  We focused on receiving answers to our prayers.  As we were talking I saw how excited Irmão Wandemberg was to be teaching and to share the good message again.  He talked about his mission with such love and especially talked about the power of his conversion.  Eventually we got to Victor and he said "I´ve prayed 3 or 4 times about the Book of Mormon and I still haven´t gotten an answer."  As we asked a little more he said that he was waiting to hear a voice tell him that it was true.  We clarified that answers come by means of our feelings.  Then he admited that he had always felt really good when he was with us, when he read, and when he prayed.  But the best part was that he saw that for Irmão Wandemberg, the gospel isn´t just something we talk about.  It´s a way of life.  It was awesome.  He came to church, liked it, and is excited to learn more.  The Lord poured out miracles and the member of the stake presidency that spoke talked about how he saw a lady on his mission give up smoking.  Guess what Victor´s problem is?  Smoking.  Ah.  Miracles are real.

But why, you may ask, The Freestyle Leg?  (for those of you who don´t understand swimming, you´ll need to ask my parents about my swimming history)  The mission of an Élder learning a foreign language is 16 transfers in the field.  The 400 Individual Medley is 16 lengths of the pool, four of each stroke (buterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle).  Today, the sisters of my MTC group (mission of 12 transfers) went home. I´m on my last 4 transfers here in the field, or in other words, the freestyle leg of my mission.  I always gave the 400 IM my all during the whole race, but I always had something special in the tank for the end, the freestyle leg.  So, with four more transfers to go, I´m going to give it 120% every single day.  We´re going to find.  We will teach.  We will baptize like crazy.  Why?  Because this is the truth.  I know it.  I teach it.  I live it.  I love it.

Até o próximo!

Élder Evans  

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Book of Mormon

Oi família!

So, things are going along.  We had some ups and downs this week, just like every week as a missionary.  We went to contact a referal we had received and it turned out to be a member who hasn´t been to church in over 20 years.  We passed by and started talking with here and we invited her to church.  She said, "Alright, I´ll go to see how it is again."  She came yesterday and really enjoyed it.  She just began talking to everyone and getting to know everyone and it was awesome.  Yesterday was the Primary Program and it was great. Altogether, it was a cool little miracle that we had this week.

We had an exchange this week in house with the other élders who live with us.  They work in the same ward, just on the other side.  I stayed on our side with Élder K. Oliveira who´s from the state of São Paulo, but another city within the state. We went to teach an investigator we have named Victor.  Victor´s family and friends are unfarmiliar with the church and what we believe so they generally have a lot of questions for us.  This particular day we had a number of questions about the Book of Mormon.  The explanation went really well.  They understood very well what is the Book of Mormon and how it came about.  But the biggie was at the end of their questions.  They all enjoyed the explanation but the end reaction was something like "well, that´s cool.  We have the the bible and we don´t really want anything more.  The book is cool I´m sure, but we´re good where we are."  Then Élder K. Oliveira bore his testimony.  Élder K. Oliveira has a great love for the Book of Mormon and said without hesitation "As declared by a prophet of god the Book of Mormon is the most correct of all books on earth and any man will grow closer by reading and abiding by it´s precepts than by any other book.  I know this because I´ve read and I´ve prayed to know that what this book teaches is true.  I love The Book of Mormon and if you pray and ask our Father in Heaven if it´s true, you will know."  It was a very spiritually powerful moment.  There in the middle of an obscure street in Fortaleza, there was no denying that the Book of Mormon is true. 

I think about these things a lot.  The more and more I serve as a missionary, a representative of our Savior, the more and more that I study and learn, it becomes an undenyable fact that what we teach every single day is true.  Scriptures both ancient and modern will show that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord´s true and restored church on the earth.  Are there ways to prove it?  Absolutely.  But the best proof we can receive is an answer to a simple prayer.  Like our Heavenly Father answered Joseph Smith´s prayer in 1820, He still responds to people each and every day.  Every time I have prayed He has responded to me without fail. I know that He will always respond to you.  Don´t forget to ask Him, because He is the one with all the answers.

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, November 3, 2014

Well, things are improving!

Oi família!

Well, the challenges here in the Conjunto Ceará 3 ward are many and varied, but miracles are happening frequently!!! We´re beginning to find people who actually want to learn who have never heard from the missionaries before!  Élder Muniz and I are working super hard every day and the Lord is rewarding our patience, diligence, and faith.  This week we´re hoping for big numbers in sacrament meeting.  It´s going to be awesome!

A few weeks ago we ran into a guy named Cândido.  He has a small family and is catholic.  We were talking with him the other day and he said, "Prayer and bible study are always important things for me, but I´m not a huge fan of church.  It seems like everyone is arguing with everyone and I don´t know which one is right."  Wow.  Golden.  It´s so wonderful to know that our loving Heavenly Father has restored the Church of Jesus Christ to the earth.  It´s such a blessing to be a missionary and a representative of Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.

We had an awesome activity this weekend.  We organized a talent show with the ward and we had a number of stakes that participated!  The chapel is a ways away because ours is under construction, so we haven´t had an activity in a while.  But we decided that it was time to have one and the ward loved it!  We had a party and it was good to just have some fun.  Now the ward is more excited than ever and we´re going to see more and more miracles as the work of the Lord progresses in the ward!

Sei que esta é a obra do Senhor.  Ele está me dirigindo todo dia e sou tão grato pela oportunidade para servi-Lo.

Amo vocês

Élder Evans

Monday, October 27, 2014

Patience... makes for a lot of walking

Oi família!

No one worry, I´m healthy again.  Whatever it was that I had last week has passed now and I´m healthy once again.  After sleeping almost all of Monday (literally, I slept almost 16 hours) I´m back to full and complete activity. Being sick on the mission isn´t super fun, but I made it through. I´ll make an effort to not get more sick during my mission. 

So, things have been a little hard lately.  We´re short of good people in our teaching pool.  We find any number of people who have already heard the message or have no desire, so we were really hurting for new people to teach that want to hear more about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  So, we´ve been doing a lot of walking.  Mostly trying to contact less-actives.  We have an old list of members of the ward here and we´re trying to contact as many of them as we can and bring some people back into the fold.  Things have been difficult, but we´re managing to find some less-active members who have some desire to come back.  Que bom.

But in the midst of all this walking was something super cool that happened this week.  We met a guy named Victor.  I had already passed by him in the street before but hadn´t every made contact with him.  One day as we passed by him to do another visit he called us over and said "I want to learn more about your church.  You´re the Mormons right?"  We responded that we were and he began to tell us a few things about what he had heard.  We marked a return appointment and gave him a Restoration pamphlet. We headed back the next day and it was AWESOME!!!  He had already read the pamphlet and had understood really well.  He explained "So, the prophets receive the priesthood and guide God´s children here on earth, right?"  Seriously, he used the word priesthood.  I haven´t heard that from an investigator in ages.  After we indicated that this was correct he said "and Joseph Smith received the priesthood right?  So, he´s a prophet."  It was amazing.  The lesson went super smooth and he understood and accepted everything.  My favorite part was the end when he said, "You know, I smoke and drink coffee.  I think I´ll stop with that. I don´t know if I want to be baptized yet too, but I´ll begin thinking about that too."  We hadn´t said anything about these things yet.  This is when the Spirit is teaching, not the missionaries.  Long story short, Victor is progressing really well.  He´s having some oposition from his family, but we´re working to overcome that.  He´s super solid.  It was super awesome to me to see that after a lot of walking, the Lord rewarded our work.  This is the Lord´s work.  This doesn´t mean success and baptisms 100% of the time.  It was never easy for Jesus Christ, it certainly won´t be easy for us.  But His mission was 100% worthwhile, so mine will be too if I´m willing to give it my all.

Amo todos de vocês.  Grande abraço, fiquem firmes.


So, there was a couples dinner Saturday night and they didn´t take the thing down until after church on Sunday, so we took pictures.

Élder Evans  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Priesthood Power

Oi família!

Well, the gospel is true.  I love seeing how each and every day the Lord is blessing all of us, especially my awesome family. 

Well, we had a challenging week.  We weren´t able to teach very much and finding people was also somewhat difficult, but we stayed positive.  Élder Muniz and I have been working super hard this week and we´re going to work even harder this next week. 

But I guess the cool experience of the week happened yesterday.  I got sick yesterday and I was struggling a lot.  I´m not sure if it was food poisoning or what, but it was bad.  I asked the other elders in the house if they would give me a blessing.  Élder K. Oliveira did the anointing and Élder Anderson sealed.  It was amazing because he blessed me with health, but then continued to speak for a little while.  He talked about my work, he talked about what I needed to do, and he also said that the Lord was pleased with my service until this point in my mission.  It was super cool to hear the words he spoke, because it was exactly what I needed to hear at the moment.  Long story short, I´m still a little sick, but I´m feeling better already.  But I saw that the Preisthood is truly the power of God on the earth. 

I know that this is the Lord´s church restored on the earth.  I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet on the earth today. 

Amo vocês e espero uma boa semana para todos.

Élder Evans

Monday, October 13, 2014

I´m still really white.... but the gospel is true.

Oi família! 

So, first week with Élder Muniz was awesome.  We´re working super hard every day and it´s going well.  He´s from São Paulo but speaks English fluently.  It´s funny when he says things in enlish because it catches me so off guard but it´s always something funny so I end up laughing too. Attached is a photo with the two of us, and yes, I´m still white as can be.  You would think that after a year in the Brazilian sun something would have changed.  No such luck. 

But the cool experience of the week was with a guy named Anderson.  Though the week was full of effective work, the Lord is trying us to see how strong our faith really is.  Our area is known for being a little tough (little isn´t an exageration, it´s smaller than our ward back home) but we´re working super hard.  One day we were doing contacts after a few days of rough work and we knocked on a door seeking after a referal.  We knocked to find a woman that wasn´t the person we were looking after.  We talked to her for a little and during the conversation she asked "Would you two like to come in and share a message with my husband and I?"  Score!  Her husband was asleep at the moment, so we set a return appointment.  We explained the importance of the Restoration of the Gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  They even thought it was interesting, though he refused to pray to know if it was true.  He demanded that we prove our message was true.  Then Élder Muniz said something extraordinary.  "The only person that can convince you that what we´re saying is true is you.  We´re here to invite you to find out for yourself if this is true.  I have prayed and I know that what we are speaking is true for myself because God answered me.  I have never been more sure about anything in my entire life.  I´m not here to preach this message because my mom told me to, I´m here because God told me to."  It was a super powerful moment and I left thinking "How can I obtain conviction like that?"

The next day I was reading in the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon.  I had landed on Chapter 12 that particular day which is Moroni´s explination of faith.  I was especially touched by verse 6 when Moroni begins:

 I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. (Ether 12:6)

I realized that faith needs to be tested in order to be strengthened.  Though what he had said to us had shaken me a little, I returned to the fight with a stronger and stronger testimony.  In swimming we don´t know how good we are until we are in the race.  In the gospel it is the same message.  We don´t know how strong our testimony is until we are put to the test. What´s more the Lord will reward us according to our faith like he did with the Brother of Jared:

For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin,Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith (Ether 12:30)

What power our faith can have!  But, we need to show our faith before the miracle will come.  This chapter explains that it was by faith that Christ showed himself unto the people of ancient america (Ether 12:7).  Why is this important?  Well, I´ve never seen Christ.  Therefore, I walk by faith.  Sure, there are a few hundred years of archeological evidence that the Book of Mormon is true, but that doesn´t develop trust in our Father in Heaven.  What I know to be true I know because I prayed and I received an answer from the Holy Ghost and no one can take that away from me.  Historical facts may fail.  The persuasions of men will not always win.  But the witness from the Holy Ghost is something that will never be taken away if we continue to nourish and grow it (Alma 32:42). 

I know the gospel is true.  Not because anyone told me.  But because God answered me.

Até o próximo queridos amigos e familiares

Élder Evans 

P.S. The other photo is from Sheisla´s baptism.  From left to right: Élder Espinal, Irmã Bia, Sheisla, Me

In front: Letícia (Irmã Bia´s daughter)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Conference... pretty much the coolest thing ever

Oi família!

Transfers tomorrow!  I´ll be staying in my area and getting a new companion, Élder Muniz.  Thank you all for your prayers for me and our great work.  They´re helping a lot.

Who liked General Conference? Though listening in English was once again an option for me, I felt that it was necessary that I listened in Portuguese.  I discovered why later, but one way or another it was awesome because I understood almost everything that was said!  I really liked Élder Godoy´s talk from Saturday Afternoon, mostly because he spoke in Portuguese. But the content of the talk was also good.  But I also really enjoyed President Eyering´s talk from Sunday Morning.  That was one talk that as he was speaking I felt, "Wow, this talk is for me"  I also really enjoyed the talk from Élder Lynn G Robbins, from Saturday Morning.  Okay, I liked the whole conference, but these were some in particular that I enjoyed.  If you missed the conference, you can find it at and watch, listen, read, eat, sleep, and enjoy conference there. 

One of the things I particularly enjoyed of the conference was how firm everyone was.  I felt that in the Saturday session that there was a very clear message: 
Truth is objective.  It does not change as trends in society change.  What God has established as truth is what was, what is, and what always will be what is right.  It is our duty to defend that.
We will face hard and trying times as the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior draws nearer.  As Élder Andersen said, things are going to get worse, a lot worse, before Christ returns.  And in these situations,we must remain firmly planted upon the rock of our Redeemer (Helamen 5:12). 

We had a super awesome experience with this just this past week.  Remember Sheisla?  Well, this week was super hard for her.  I think it was one of the hardest weeks I´ve seen in an investigators life.  You could see how the enemy had combined everything he had against her to make sure that she wouldn´t be baptized this week.  But, it was a super powerful week to see how converted she had really become.  I can´t say that we had any one even in particular that was amazing, but the whole week little things were falling into place to help her enter the waters of baptism this past week.  Though she was tested and tried she held firm and was baptized yesterday!  She said to us "The enemy is trying to do everything he can to make sure that my baptism doesn´t take place. But I´ve had so many answers.  This has to be true"  It was amazing.  She told us how much she loved conference (she attended all five sessions!) and how during the Saturday Afternoon session she felt that every single talk was written to her.  It was awesome. 

So, I know I didn´t have any one particular experience this week, but this was what I felt to write.  I´m loving this oportunity to serve and I´m rededicating myself to 120% service during these next 7-8 months that I have. 

I know that this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the earth.  I know that He lives and that He has called Thomas Monson to be His prophet on the earth today.  I am His representative. 

Amo vocês

Élder Evans

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wait..... what?!?!?

Oi família!

So, first a big shout out to Trev and Kenz on getting hitched eternally!  WOOOOO HOOOOOO!!!!  The blessings of the Restoration are real and alive! Parabéns!

Things are hot here in Brazil.  We had a little bit of a scare this week but it was followed by a super awesome miracle.  So, I´ve already talked a little bit about Sheisla, who we met a few weeks ago. She´s from another city in Ceará but she´s living here for a while to do a surgery and maybe do college later.  Well, things have been going super well with her.  She was preparing to be baptized this week.  Then we showed up Monday night to walk to Family Night with her, and her aunt answered the door and said "She´s going back home and won´t be returning here until December."  My heart dropped.  She was going so well, and suddenly it was over.  So, we worked Tuesday and Wednesday normally.  Thursday morning we called our ward mission leader to see if we had the integration activity.  He responded that we did and that Sheisla would be there.  Sure enough, it didn´t work out that she went home and she was as firm and steadfast as ever.  We made an apointment to pass by on Friday.

We passed by with a member of the ward, Irmão Wandenberg.  He´s one of those members that´s just awesome.  He takes whatever chances the Lord gives him and just runs with it.  As we were talking with Sheisla she was talking about her thoughts and feelings about what we had been sharing.  She began sharing her doubts and her feelings about baptism in another church and what that could mean for her.  Then Wandenberg spoke up and explained about his baptism.  He began explaining how when he was 12 he had many of the same doubts that Sheisla has been having.  But explained that after his baptism he felt absolutely amazing, like he wanted to get up and proclaim to the whole world that this was the only true church of Jesus Christ on the earth.  Then Sheisla began to talk.  She explained how testimonies and conversations from members had been answers to her prayers. She said that she had received so many answers to her doubts in the scriptures.  The she said that when we said "this is the true church on the earth" she was shocked.  The she said something that I will never forget.
Sheisla: "This is the true church.  Joseph Smith was a prophet.  Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today.  This church has the authority to baptize"
Along with a few other things.  It was a super intense lesson.  She explained how much she loved every meeting, every activity, and that every time she calls home, she talks about the amazing things she´s learning in church! It was amazing.  She´ll be getting baptized during conference on Sunday.  She is so prepared.

So, the church is true.  I hope you all are pumped for conference, cuz I sure am.  It´s going to be awesome.  Where else will you find talks given by true and living prophets? Only in the true church of Jesus Christ.

Amo todos de vocês.  Fiquem firmes

Élder Evans

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bread Brings Miracles

Oi família!

First of all, big shout out to Trev and Kenz for getting hitched this week!!! Congrats for the awesome decision to be sealed eternally in The House of the Lord!  I would love to be there, but we´ll try to help other people become eternal families that day too.  I´m so excited for this amazing oportunity you will have to begin your own eternal family and help bring more and more of Heavenly Father´s children back home.

But, this week we had a cool experience.  A few nights a week we pass by this bakery to buy little breads, cookies and things because we don´t eat dinner until after we get home.  It´s cheap and it´s good.  Here in Brazil they have this cookie/bread deal called "Mariamaluca" (or something to that effect)  that is like a cookie (more or less) that has coconut.  I really like it.  Anyway, we pass by there ocasionally and the same woman is working there every single day. I had always thought "Maybe we should contact her..." but I don´t generally like to contact people while they´re working.  But one day she said to me "So, you two just go around the whole day preaching the word of God?" and I "Yes.  Have you already spoken with other missionaries?"  She explained that her daughters had but she personally hadn´t before.  We marked a day to visit Adriana and headed out to eat.

Fast forward to yesterday, which was when we had marked down to talk with here.  We  arrived at her house to find her distraught.  We entered and she began explaining everything that had been going wrong.  She began to explain about her family problems and the sadness she was feeling and how she had no idea what she could do to overcome these problems.  As she was talking I remembered the explerience I had with Clayton (see experience from May) and how what we taught resolved his problem.  Before I could say anything, Élder Espinal began talking about how God has prepared a means that our families can be happier by means of prophets.  We began teaching and everything that we taught just clicked with her.  As we explained prophets she began to light up and see hope for her torn family situation.  She recognized that a true prophet of God would be able to help her family have more peace and happiness.  Then we began explaining about how Jesus Christ as a prophet, organized His church during his earthly ministrty.  We began to ask her a few things about her thoughts about our message.  She agreed that if she found this church that Christ had organized, she would follow it.  Then she asked the question that every missionary wants to hear: "But, how can I find this church today?  There are so many!"  Perfect.  We explained the Restoration and she loved the message.  It was so fantastic to see how she went from seemingly hopeless at the beginning of the lesson to almost literally full of light at the end.  She loved the lesson and said that she would pray to know if it was true before we even invited her!  Then she closed the lesson with a prayer and said "Thank you Lord for sending these angels to help me when I needed it and help me to know that what they said is true..." it was an amazing experience.  

So, the gospel brings miracles into people´s lives.  Even in the simple form of bread.

Amo vocês!

Élder Evans

Monday, September 15, 2014

É tão simples... (It´s so simple...)

Oi família!

WOW!!! This week was AWESOME!!!  Like any week of missionary work, it was ups and downs, but it was all a good time.   We had some awesome lessons and some awesome experiences.  I gave a talk in church yesterday about inviting our friends and family members to hear about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ through the church, family nights, integration nights, and other cool stuff like that.  Some of the ward members seemed excited so I´m happy.  We´re really trying to get the missionary work going in this ward.  It´s a really small ward (geographically and numbers-wise) and we´re trying to take advantage of that and make some miracles happen.  In general, I´m pumped to be here.

But, the experience of the week was cool.  One of the missionaries in our house has been sick for a while and his companion was getting some cabin fever.  So, we´ve been doing in-house exchanges for a little while to give Élder K.Oliveira some breathing room.  I was out working with him on one of these days.  It was hot and everything that we were trying fell through.  As we were walking along a street, I happened to look up and see a woman in the window of a house.  We said hi and passed by.  As soon as we passed the house I felt the Spirit say "Go back"  So, what could I do?  We went back.  We introduced ourselves and asked if we could share a message with them about Jesus Christ.  They let us in and we began teaching.  We met two cousins, Elídina and James.  James was a little less open to the message than Elídina, but that´s what was so interesting.  James has a bachelors degree in Philosophy, so he´s decently well-trained in twisting your words and quetions around to confuse you.  He kept asking us these seemingly complicated questions to try and confuse us and see if we honestly knew what we were saying.  What impressed me is that with each question, a simple tesimony was enough to answer his complex questioning.  It was so impressive to me that everything we do, everything we have as church members is so simple in nature that even a child can understand the doctrines necesary for salvation.  The Spirit testified well in that lesson and I was very thrilled with the oportunity I had to teach them. 

I know that the gospel is true because it is simple.  The message we bear is an amazing message, because it helps each and every person regardless of prior education.  The gospel is simple.  Jesus Christ is our Savior.  He restored His gospel through the prophet Jospeh Smith.  This is His work.  I am His representative.

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo!

Élder Evans

Monday, September 8, 2014

Werd... The Scriptures are COOL!

Oi família!

Well, Élder Feliz is feliz this week.  It wasn´t exactly one of those weeks where you have huge numbers to report to the mission office, but it was a rewarding week.  For the first time in my life I talked to a Jew!  Okay, I met one jew once in Salt Lake, but beyond that I had never met one before.  We had Leadership Council on Thursday and afterwards my companion and I went to Burger King for lunch.  Not my number one choice, but afterwards I saw why it was inspired.  We walked in and I saw this guy wearing a yamika (?) and I thought "Wow, I always wanted to talk with a Jew before" and as we were waiting for our food he called me over and started talking with me.  He told me how a Mormon had saved his life and how he was eternally grateful to him for that.  Then he told us what a good influence this membr of the church had had on him and that according to all of the research he had done, the Book of Mormon has to be true. He said "It's simply too perfect.  Everything fits."  It was a super inspiring discussion that I´m super simplifying, but it was awesome.

But the experience of the week was with Sheisla again.  We taught her this week about baptism and the need for proper preisthood authority and she spent the week praying and seeking an answer if she should be baptized.  We arrived one day and she began explaining to us what she had been receiving as answers.  Generally, she prays, asks for an answer, and then opens the Bible.  She said that one day she had been praying and she began to cry.  She had the most amazing feeling as if she was been hugged super tight by our Father in Heaven and that he had aliviated all of her suffering and sadness.  Of course that was an answer to her prayer, but how could I explain that?  As soon as I had this thought a scripture came to mind, Matthew 11:28-30.  We read it together.  "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy leaden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowley in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" and she agreed that that was exactly how she felt.  It was soooo awesome to feel so guided.  We explained that when we are baptized we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ using Mosiah 18:10 and explained that she could feel the same aliviation and relief she had felt by being baptzied.  She said she would pray one more time and ask, but that she was feeling that she should.  It was an amazing lesson.  The next day, she said she would be baptzied!  So, we´re preping her this week and praying that this week will work out! It´s been an amazing journey.

I love being a missionary.  I know this is the Lord´s work.  He´s watching over us.

Até o próximo

Élder Evans

Monday, September 1, 2014

Élder Feliz (Elder Happy)

Oi família!

Things are going good here in the Conjunto Ceará 3 Ward.  It´s a small ward, but a good ward.  Yesterday everyone began to know me as "Élder Feliz" which is Portuguese for "Élder Happy".  We had lunch yesterday with a member and the food and everything was so good.  I told her "Sister, this food is amazing, the drinks are awesome, I´m loving this ward..." and things of that nature.  As it turned out, this sister was also one of the speakers in church that afternoon and she talked about gratitude.  She talked about how I was so happy and grateful for everything and called me "Élder Feliz" while she was speaking because she still hasn´t learned my name.  So now everyone knows me as "Élder Feliz". 

That wasn´t the experience of the week, but I thought it was cool.  But, this week we´ve had some super cool experiences already.  Our area is super small (more or less the size of our ward back home, if not maybe a little bigger) but we´re seeing some amazing things happen.  One of the things was a young woman we met named Sheisla.  She lives in the interior of Ceará, about 8 hours from Fortaleza, but she´s in Fortaleza to do a surgery, so she´ll be staying with her aunt for a little bit.  We talked with her one day on the street and we marked an appointment to return Sunday morning before lunch.  We headed out to teach her and I was excited.  Appointments before lunch are generally a little sketchy because people tend to be super busy making lunch (it´s a super big deal here) but we showed up and there she was.  Even better, she was excited to hear what we would explain.  We began explaining about the church and what it means to us and what it could mean to her.  She had some amazing comments about Jesus Christ and what He did for each of us. I was amazed to see the absolute love and admiration she has for our Lord and Savior.  She understood everything and the Spirit was super strong.  At the end of the lesson we invited her to pray about what she had heard and she said, "You know, there are some things you can just feel.  The whole time that you two have been speaking I´ve just felt the Spirit like a hammer saying 'It´s true, it´s true'"  Wow.  She agreed to pray and then we invited her to come to church with us that afternoon.  She wasn´t sure if she could, but said she would try.  We passed by later that afternoon to see if she would come and she said "Yes.  I already went and talked with Brother Lisboa (who she has never met) and he´ll give me a ride with his family.  Can my cousin come too?"  She came to church and loved it!  I´m super pumped to see her progress in the gospel.  But as we were walking we began to think about that.  We met here on Thursday night and made an appointment for Sunday morning.  Sunday morning two American strangers told her that our Father in Heaven has called a prophet once again on the earth and that she should visit the church with us.  She went and talked with a member she has never met to get a ride to a church she has never seen in a neighborhood she doesn´t know.  How amazing is that?!?  Élder Espinal and I were amazed by her faith.  It was a true testimony builder to me to see how powerful the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ really is.  It´s amazing to see how the Spirit is able to mold and shape people´s hearts so that they can see the importance of the message, even before they know it completely.  I´m soo grateful for the opportunity I have to teach people this miraculous message.

But seriously, with all of this happening, what reason do I have to not be happy?

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo.

Élder (Feliz) Evans

P.S.  This Sunday is Brasil´s Independance Day.  Who´s excited?  I´m excited.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Eu me sinto que.... (I feel that....)

Oi família!

Well, President Bonini changed the way we do transfers.  Instead of everyone meeting at the Montese Chapel, now we receive an e-mail that has all of the information to find our new area and companion.  So, I´m being transfered!  I have loved my time here in the Sumaré Ward and I´m excited to be off on another adventure.

Well, this week, I can´t say that I had any super mind-blowing experience.  But, I remembered an experience from a few weeks ago and then tie it in with what I felt this week.

A few weeks ago we were teaching a man who used to be a preist for the Catholic Church.  Eventually he decided that the life of a preist wasn´t for him and he became a pastor for an Evangelical Church.  One way or another it was an interesting lesson.  We began explaining the Restoration and he had good questions.  We responded and the spirit began to grow more intense.  As we neared the end of the lesson we mad the usual invitation of "Will you pray to know that what we taught is true?"  and he responded with the best response I´ve yet heard, "I know that what you´re teaching is true because I feel the Holy Ghost telling me it is"

Fast forward to this week.  This week, Élder Tamanho and I were seeking some new investigators.  Every single time we taught the Restoration, the Spirit whispered to me that what we were teaching was true.  It was an amazing experience.  That the church that Jesus Christ established was lost and restored was nothing new to me, as I´m sure that it isn´t to all of you.  I´ve prayed a number of times about the church and every single time, the answer is yes.  But that´s the beauty of what I saw this week.  Every single time I have prayed, every single lesson we have taught, every time someone testifies that this is the restored church of Jesus Christ the Spirit testifies. That is the beauty of the message we bear.  If it weren´t true, the Spirit wouldn´t testify.  And for the Spirit to testify only some of the time would make it partially untrue as well, because the Spirit always testifies of truth.  But, I can sit here throwing out proofs all day, but the only way to truly know is to ask of God (James 1:5).  So, I invite each of you this week to pray to know if the gospel really was restored.  Regardless of how many times you have previously done so, I know He will respond.

Our Father in Heaven lives and loves us.  Our Savior, Jesus Christ lives and has payed the price for our sins.  I know these things because I feel them in my heart in an indescribable way, much like many of you.

Amo vocês!  Amo a ala Sumaré, e sei que tudo vai ficar bem!

Élder Evans

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Restauração (The Restoration)

Oi família!

Well, things are going well.  In general I´m as happy as a clam.  It would be a lie to say that this week has been a bed of roses, though we´re working for that.  We had a number of difficulties, but we´ve also been very blessed.  We headed back to Canindé this week and once again, it was like the road to St. George.  I got to observe some awesome missionary work by the élderes in Canindé and in general, I´m thrilled with how the zone is progressing.  Being a zone leader is a taxing experience, but we´re seeing some awesome miracles.  I´m learning a bunch and we´re having an awesome time.

We´ve been having some super cool experiences with teachig over the past few days.  I remember one lesson in particular where I had the opportunity to feel the Spirit very powerfully.  I particulary felt so during one time when we were teaching the resotration to a family.  I always like to explain very carefully about the Joseph Smith story using our own surroundings to tell the story.  Here in Ceará, churches are more common than churches in Utah.  But the difference is that they´re of all sorts of denominations.  Every single one teaches something different and every single one claims to have the way back to our Heavenly Father.  So, as we explained this we put them in the moment.  We talked about how this young man, Joseph Smith was confused because of the many churches that he had seen, all claiming the authority of God, but not knowing which one was the true church that Jesus Christ had restored.  We explained how Joseph Smith turned to the Bible looking for answers and found scriptures that indicated to him the organization and structure of the church of Jesus Christ.  "One Lord, One faith, One baptism" (Ephesians 4:5)  "that upon this rock I will build my church" (Mathew 16:18) and finally "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God..." (James 1:5).  I remember keenly the feeling I had as I explained the first vision using the Prophet Joseph´s own words.  "I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.  When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personagens, whose brightness and glory defied all description standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, "This is my Beloved Son, Hear Him"" Wow.  How are you feeling right now?  As I was explaining this the Spirit filled me with the conviction that this is reality.  God and our Savior really did appear to the boy prophet Joseph and it was by him and through him that the gospel was restored.  I was filled with such profound joy and gratitude to Father in Heaven for this profound gift and I know that the investigators felt it as well.

The Book of Mormon is the proof of this in these our days.  We watched "The Restoration" with Vitória´s family (the young woman we baptized last week) and afterwards we asked her to explain how she knows that the Restoration is true.  She explained, "Well, He translated the Book of Mormon so it must be true!"  It was a very powerful moment.  The Book of Mormon is the powerful and living witness we have that these things are true.  I know that it is true and that it will help anyone "draw closer to God...than any other book"

I invite each of you to ponder on the message of the Restoration, and the profound happiness that it brings in our lives.  Think about the blessings that you all have received because of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  If you struggle to think of some, I invite each of you to pray and talk with Father in Heaven.  He will help you see.

Amo vocês.  Fiquem firmes!

Élder Evans

Monday, August 11, 2014

Semana de Milagres (Week of Miracles)

Oi família!

Wow.  This week was full of ups and downs and very few in-betweens.  I guess you could say that things are getting harder in the work as many of the people that were progressing lost interest and desire.  While the week was a little more sad, we had some amazing things happen with a family that we´re teaching that will be the theme of this e-mail, the Week of Miracles.

Let´s backtrack a little.  Two weeks ago, we were preparing a young girl named Vitória to be baptized.  We had initially be teaching the family, but all of them decided that they didn´t want to participate for now, except Vitória.  So, Vitória has been faithfully reading the Book of Mormon, stopped drinking coffee, and has attended church every single week for over a month.  We were talking with the family and everything was going well.  They said that Vitória could be baptized without any problem, even though they didn´t want to be at the moment.  We were so pumped.  The day of the baptismal interview, we passed by to go to the interview when the father answered the door and said "well, we´ve decided that we´re not going to let it happen anymore."  We entered and began discussing with them what was happening what they were feeling and for what motive they had suddenly denied their daughter the opportunity to be baptized.  It was a super powerful experience for me because as a missionary sometimes it´s hard to be bold and straightforward about some things.  But as we were teaching and explaining that Vitória wants to be baptized in the only church that has the authority of God, the Spirit was very strong. He testified that this was truly the way that Vitória needed to follow and that her parents needed to let her be baptized to obtain the fullness of our Father´s blessings.  One way or another, her parents decided that they would have to think about it and that we could return the next week.

That weekend, we did a fast with our zone that we could have more baptisms and that they people we´re preparing could be baptized during this month.  The day that we marked to return to speak with Vitória´s family, we (well, I) approached the door with aprehension, praying that we would have the Spirit.  We knocked and he father opened the door.  The conversation went something like this:
Us: Hey, do you have a little that we could talk to you guys some more?
José (Vitória´s father): Yes, is it about Vitória being baptized?
Us: Yep
José: We´ll allow it.  No problem.
I almost fell over backwards.  The week before had been a battle just to get a return appointment and now they would allow the baptism?  They sure did. 

This past Saturday was Vitória´s baptism.  The Spirit was so sweet as we were at the baptismal service.  The young women sang a beautiful number that filled the chapel with the Spirit.  What was even more amazing, all of Vitória´s family came to watch the baptism.  They all enjoyed it. We invited them to come to church the next day to witness the confirmation, but they all said, "I don´t know.  Probably not, but we´ll see."

The next day Élder Tamanho and I were walking to church.  We looked in front to see Rosa (yep, our recent convert) with Vitória walking to church.  I saw another woman with them too, that I though was a member that lives close to Rosa and Vitória.  Then as we got closer, I realized that it was Fransisca, Vitória´s mom!! It was awesome!  We had almost no investigators with us in chruch yesterday, but the simple fact that a mother and a daughter could be there together for that special moment was everything.  The meeting yesterday was so full of the Spirit and was very powerful.  We passed by their house afterwards and Fransisca said "one of these days I really want to stay for the classes afterwards, but if I have the courage next week that I had this week, I will go to chruch with you next week."

I´ve seen a large number of miracles on my mission.  Most of them were small, little things, like the tender mercies of the Lord.  But what I saw and witnessed this past week was nothing short of a miracle.  My God is a God of miracles.  He has never ceased to be one and will never cease to produce such wonders in our days.  As we exercise our faith, the Lord will work miracles in our lives.

Amo vocês.  Até o próximo milagres

Élder Evans

P.S. Have I already said that I love being a missionary?!?!?!?!?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Poder do Sacerdócio (Priesthood Power)

Oi família!

Well, it´s been a good week.  I guess you could say that it´s been one of those weeks that had ups and downs.  But, let´s be real, that´s life.  And especially missionary service.  I´ve been having the awesome opportunity to think a lot about our Savior and how the mission is kind of like what He went through, though in a condensed and edited version.  I truly love our Savior, Jesus Christ and each day I am so grateful to Him for His sacrifice for each of us.  It is such an honor and privelege to be his representative.

We had some awesome experiences this past week and I was truly able to see the power of the Spirit as we taught, testified, and called people to repentance.  But, what really touched me was something that I learned about the priesthood this past week.  We have a lady that does manicures and things like that here in the ward, and she also has a knack for removing ingrown toenails.  My companion, Élder Tamanho, had a toenail that was starting to become ingrown, so we headed over there Sunday to have her fix it up.  Afterwards we asked them how we could help them and serve their family and the husband said "I want a blessing.  I´ve been having migranes recently."  So, we gave him a blessing.  It was odd initially, because after I blessed him to have health and that his migrane would leave, I began blessing him with respect to his family and home.  Though I felt a little confused, I went with it and finished up the blessing.  We thanked them, said goodbye, and headed out.  Then, yesterday, lunch was at their home.  As we were finishing up, we asked them what we could do to serve their family.  They began to explain how their son was inactive and was having a number of problmes.  As they continued explaining to us what was happening, I couldn´t help but remember the blessing I had given just the week before.  I had no idea that they were experiencing family troubles.  I had no idea they were looking for extra divine help with their son.  I just felt inspired to say it.  As I´ve reflected more and more, I´m beginning to see a number of opportunities I´ve had as a missionary where the Lord has used me as a priesthood holder in ways I never thought possible.  I´ve seen and given blessings at the exact moment needed, when no one was aware it was nescessary.  No one, that is, except the Lord.  With these experiences I´ve truly seen how the Priesthood is REAL.  It is truly the power of God on earth, and the Lord has blessed me to have this power!  Think of that!  I am a bearer of the power of God!  And with it, the things I can do to bless people are amazing. 

I´m so grateful to be a member of the Lord´s only true and living church.  I know that the priesthood is real and is the power of God on earth.  What a blessing that the Lord has restored His authority once again.

Até mais!  Amo vocês!

Élder Evans  

Monday, July 28, 2014

O campo está branco (The field is white)

Oi família!

I hope you´re all enjoying my subject lines.  It´s fun because everyone gets to learn a little portuguese while they´re at home!  Why?  Because Portuguese is the bee´s knees.  I love it.  Even though I´m still basically stuck with the "missionary vocabulary" right now, I´m working to find more words.  I told my companion that one of my dreams is to come back to Brasil to be a translator for the U.S. Olympic Swimming Team and he said that his dream is to speak english fluently before he returns home.  So, long story short, we´re helping each other learn the native language of the other!  It´s kind of cool.  Não.  É super legal.  O Élder Tamanho está progredindo muito bem com inglês. (No, it´s super cool.  Élder Tamanho is progressing really will with english)  I´m really working lately with my accent, that Élder Tamanho says is slight, but still indicates that I´m an American.

But really, the field here is white.  We´ve got some good baptisms coming up and we´re finding new people every day.  As missionaries we hear a lot of the same phrases.  "If it works out, I´ll do it" and "I don´t want to commit to something I might not be albe to fulfill" seem to be the two predominant ones.  But, when we come across someone that is willing to fulfill our invitations, that´s when we know we´ve struck gold.  Take, for example, Junior, who we met with this week.  Junior was a contact that we did one day and marked to return.  When we returned, he was getting ready to leave, so we explained the Book of Mormon briefly, left the book and a pamphlet, and marked a return appointment.  When Élder Tamanho and I returned for the appointment, he was in his kitchen.  WE entered and on the table was his bible, the Book of Mormon, and the pamphlet we had left.  All open.  He had studied before we even got to his house.  This was awesome.  We began the lesson and he began to be a little confused about the importance of prophets and how they could see God.  The Spirit kicked in and reminded me of a scripture I hadn´t read since January. We showed him some scriptures about Moses that completely removed his doubt.  We continued teaching and he understood completely.  We hit the Restoration and I began teaching.  As I taught I felt as if I wasn´t doing anything, that the words were just pouring out of my mouth.  Then we hit the First Vision.  As I related using the words of the Prophet Joseph, the Spirit filled me until I felt like I would burst.  As I was talking I realized that my accent was completely gone.  I was speaking just like a native Brazilian.  It was an amazing lesson.  We invited him to pray and he said "you know élders, I already have.  I asked God in my prayer if what I read was true, and if it was that He would permit you guys to come back and meet with me.  Today I had a huge to-do list and I had doubts I would be home before 9.  Our appointment was for 5:30 and I managed to get her at 4:00.  I feel that this is true."  It was fantastic.  As we left Élder Tamanho and I both said "That was one of the most spiritual lessons I´ve had in my entire mission."  We saw so many promises fulfilled.  The Holy Ghost bringing scriptures to remembrance.  The gift of tongues.  The gift of testimony.  The gift to believe the testimony of others.  It was amazing.  Because the field is white in Brazil.  I love it here.  I love being a missionary.  I am sooo grateful to our Father that I can stay here.  This is truly the best two years of my life.

Amo vocês.  Tenham uma boa semana.

Élder Evans     

Well, to be honest, Brazil looks nothing like this.  We just have this one part of the area that is full of jungle-looking things and we had our cameras with us this day.  So, we took pictures.

mais uma

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sou missionário, sou feliz (I´m a missionary, I´m always happy)

Oi família!

Wow.  The World Cup was cool because I was in Brazil while it was happening.  Everyone was all decked out in yellow and green and every clothing shop had Brazil jerseys for sale.  There were chalk drawings and decorations over the streets.  But I cannot express how happy I am that the Cup is over and that we have returned to normal work. It[s a little funny because as we´re walking in the street everyone says "Congrats germany!" to me. People don´t seem super angry that they lost, but more than anything, I´m just glad to be back to normal work. 

That was one of the cool things I noticed this week.  We had one of those days that everthing fell through.  And I mean everything.  But, as we were walking in the street, I was just so pumped to be a missionary.  I was so thrilled to be out serving, and preaching the good message.  Seriously, being a missionary is the greatest thing that has every happened to me. 

But, I guess that was the cool dealio this week.  We had an exchange this week and I had stayed in the area with the new district leader in our zone, Élder Benitez (he´s american but his dad is from Porto Rico).  As Élder Benitez and I began the day the duty fell to me to lead out in the lessons, contacts, things of the nature.  As I did, I began to feel this intense happiness and joy for the gospel.  We taught the Restoration three times that day, and each time the Spirit helped me to see how true the message truly is.  I remember in one lesson in particular we were teaching a woman and her neighbor and during the lesson I was filled with this recognition of how great and grand the blessings of the gospel really are.  It was so cool to me to see how in every single lesson, the Spirit testified to me about this beautiful message and how it has changed my life.  We talked with a man named Elton who explained about problems in his family and how he hasn´t talked to his mother in quite a while.  We were able to testify about the healing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how it truly brings families back together.  He was super touched by the Spirit and said "I will definitely go to church with you guys".  What was even better was how guided I felt during that whole lesson.  I felt as if every word I said was placed there by the Spirit.  It was truly a day of miracles that helped me to recognize the great blessings of the Lord in my life.  I love being a missionary.

But really, think about that.  Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has called another prophet in these our days to lead us and guide us in this troubled world. Every day we hear of earthquakes, wars,sickness, and poverty that plague the world.  But with the restored gospel of Jesus Christ upon the earth we have the promise of the Lord that we will be safe.  I know this is true.  So, head out and share some blessings with people this week.  You´ll be glad that you did.

Até mais,

Élder Evans